We have wrapped up the first part of our journey through "The Story" and it has been incredible to say the least. I can't wait to start it all up again in a few more weeks.
As amazing as the first part of 2014 has been, it is only going to get better. Yes, we are taking a break from "The Story", but we are not taking a break from life change. In fact, we are going to see much more in the coming weeks.
Why? The Easter season is upon us. Easter Sunday is the largest attended Sunday of the year world-wide. Even in a city that puts spring break during Easter weekend...it is still the largest attended weekend any church in our area will have.
This Sunday you will see familiar faces who may only come a few times a year. You will see many unfamiliar faces. You will see family. You even have an incredible opportunity to invite friends. People are more receptive to an invitation to Easter services than any other time.
The reason so many will attend Easter as opposed to any other time of year is because of what it represents. It is the pivotal moment of our faith. That pivotal moment is not the death of Christ, but HIS RESURRECTION. What an amazing part of our story!
So let us all prepare for our Easter weekend by doing three things.
1.) PRAY. I hope you have already been doing this, but if not...begin NOW. Pray for those you are inviting to come. Pray for those who are being invited by other Skyliners. Pray for God's move in the hearts of everyone there. Pray for those who serve in ministry (me included) that we may literally be the hands and feet of Jesus to everyone who enters our doors.
2.) INVITE. Again, I hope you have already been doing this, but if not...begin NOW. As I said earlier, people are much more receptive to an invitation on Easter than at any other time during the year. Leverage that inclination to God's advantage. Invite your friends. Invite your family. Invite your neighbors, your co-workers, your waitress, your grocer, .....you get the picture. We are having 2 services to make room for them, so let's fill up the OTHS auditorium twice this weekend.
3.) PARK. As I just said, we are having 2 services (9:30 & 11:00) to make room for all the new people who will come to Skyline this weekend. Because of the new people we anticipate, we will need to make room in the parking lot as well. For those of you who will be present for both services because you are serving in one and worshipping in another...please park in the lot BEHIND THE PANTHER DOME. Our parking lot greeters will direct you. There will be another entrance for you. Also, if you are a regular attender who is not going to be present for both services. You are encouraged to park behind the Dome as well.
The staff and volunteers have been working hard over the last few weeks to prepare for this weekend. We are ready to serve you and your guests with excellence. Let's make this Easter the most incredible in our history as a church.
Also, don't forget...I have some INCREDIBLE news to share with you. Just in case you were wondering, it has nothing to do with our Mission Central property or building. But I promise that it is some of the greatest news I have ever shared with you. Don't ask ahead of time because I will not tell. :) You will have to remain in suspense until Sunday. See you then!
Monday, April 7, 2014
Ever since Peter Stuyvesant visited the Palace of Versailles the world has had a distorted view of itself.
Peter was the governor of New Amsterdam—later to be renamed New York City—beginning in 1647. He was visiting France to discuss colonial land agreements. While at Versailles he was awed by the Hall of Mirrors.
Peter was determined to bring a similarly amazing showcase to his city. In 1651 he founded the Peter Stuyvesant's House of Mirrors. He charged one Dutch gulden for admission.
This house of mirrors eventually morphed into what we know as a Fun House of Mirrors seen at many carnivals. For a few tickets the fun begins by walking into a maze of mirrors, both convex and concave. We amuse ourselves by looking at distorted images of our figure.
Today you don’t even have to go to the carnival for this experience. A laptop with a webcam and a silly photo feature will allow you to take a picture of yourself that you can manipulate to look odd.
It’s all fun. But sometimes distorted pictures can cause trouble. It did in Israel during the time of the prophet Samuel. One of the major distortions was found at the Tabernacle, that portable place of praise for God’s people.
It was parked at Shiloh and was meant to be a clear picture of God’s holiness and grace. A system of sacrifices had been established that foreshadowed the coming sacrifice of the Messiah. Yet anything but holiness was found there.
Eli the priest had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who dishonored God in their treatment of the sacrifices and also engaged in immoral sexual activity with women at the Tabernacle (1 Samuel 2:16, 22). Because the picture of God they were giving was distorted, these two were killed in battle against the Philistines. When news of their death reached Eli, he fell over in his chair, broke his neck, and also died.
Imagine a moment when you and your son/daughter are having a conversation about church or the Bible. Then they ask you the question, "What does God look like?" I for one would not know how to answer that question, so I might respond with a statement back to them.
"You tell me." They think for a moment and say, "I think he looks like you Daddy." Talk about a sobering moment!
Just like Eli and his sons were representatives of God, we represent Jesus to others. We really are a picture of God to people who know that we are Christians. The question is, "Are you giving a clear or distorted picture of who God really is?"
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
We've all "been there, done that." You've found a special someone. You have gone out on a few dates and you find yourself feeling something down deep in your gut. It's not mere infatuation. It's not just something giddy. It is something deeper. Then you get the courage to do the unthinkable. You say, "I love you." You've made the first move and now you wait. It really is only a few seconds, but it feels like an eternity waiting for them to respond.
Finally the wait is over. You've put it out there and they respond with, "I love you too." We're relieved. We're excited.
We all have that desire to be accepted don't we? We all have that need to hear those words from that special someone. In fact, that desire made it in to Maslow's well-known hierarchy of needs. He theorized that acceptance is basic to our nature and to our psychological health.
Ruth had the same need as we do. She was a Moabite living in Bethlehem who we meet in chapter 8 of The Story. She ended up there with her mother-in-law Naomi when her husband died. And she found herself picking up the leftovers after the harvest in the field owned by a man named Boaz.
Boaz new she was an outsider - a Moabite - the same people who would oppress his nation for eighteen years. You might expect there to be some animosity from Boaz toward Ruth. Instead, Boaz tells Ruth, "May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge."
He accepted her, but he goes even further. Ruth finds him asleep on the threshing floor and lies down at his feet. When he awakens, Ruth asks him to "spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a family guardian." The word for "garment" is the same Hebrew word for "wings" in the blessing Boaz had pronounced over Ruth. God's acceptance came to Ruth through this man Boaz.
Your acceptance did too. You see, Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. In Matthew's genealogy the lineage of Jesus is traced through David. Boaz is there too along with his mother Rahab (Matt. 1:5). Yes...that Rahab. The prostitute that lived in Canaan and sheltered the spies Joshua had sent into the land.
It never ceases to amaze me that God doesn't just work through rich people or famous people or even people who have it all together. God specializes in the unspecial, often the "undesirable" to fulfill His incredible plans. He accepts us right where we are, no matter where we've been or what we've done. Not only does He accept us, He desires us and He uses us.